Why seek a diagnosis? Pros and Cons
The decision to seek a diagnosis is a personal choice. It may help you feel validated because “you definitely are autistic” if you have a diagnosis. However, bear in mind you may also find it difficult to get a referral, or if assessed get a diagnosis, if the people who refer and assess you are not used to seeing women, non-binary, trans persons, queer persons, or men who present with a more internal (less observable) autistic presentation.
At the University of Kent we are lucky as the support and assessment services are used to seeing non-typical (“classic male”) presentations of autistic experience. Do remember, however, that the wait can be long as the university can only put through a finite number of students for assessment per year.
Having a diagnosis can help you access services and support you may not have had already. This is more the case as a student, but unfortunately support in the community is less forthcoming. Once diagnosed you can access independent disability needs assessors (such as IONA) who will lobby on your behalf to get support while you study (e.g. specialist mentors, study skills tutors, specialist equipment, hard- and soft-ware, etc.)
Once you are aware of and accepting of being autistic (diagnosed or not), you will experience a number of feelings and thoughts about this new discovery (see The Autistic Advocate for a more detailed blog on diagnosis, but please note they are quite angry as they cannot access decent support services such as SYA? etc.).
- You may feel relief and understanding that your “weirdness” is not weird at all, at that there are many people who share similar experiences
- You may re-evaluate your life with this new knowledge – “ahhh, that’s why I did/do that!”
- You may feel anger at the fact that you were missed for so long, that nobody else realised you were autistic and struggling with sensory and social experiences
We at SYA? do hope that we can help you accept the wonderful autistic person you are, and perhaps help you with a safe space where you don’t need to mask – where you can be your autistic self, no judgements.
“Self-awareness impacts masking on a fundamental and deep level, because being aware about yourself, your strengths and limitations allows you to create strategies that you can use, instead of masking and mimicking a neurotypicals behavior. Self-awareness allows you to be more yourself than ever before, although it takes some time to actually achieve. However, once you’ve achieved a certain level of self-awareness, things become a little bit more easy afterwards.” – THE ASIAN ASPERGIRL
We will always advocate for you to be your authentic autistic self, but we caution you to think about who you wish to disclose to, and who you can be yourself around. Ultimately, you need to protect yourself, and many of us (Chloe and Annette included) don’t always have positive experiences with others when we disclose that we are autistic. But Annette and Chloe will continue to fight for acceptance where they can, but this is a personal choice – not everyone understands what it means to be autistic, and public understanding and acceptance is an ongoing project.
Find here the SYA? Unofficial Autism Questionnaires, assessment & diagnosis page.
Any questions about diagnosis feel free to ask SYA? (Chloe & Annette) via the private contributions page.